DEV1AT3 (Lifelike #2) by Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Lemon Fresh has seen better days.

After the climactic battle in Babel, she finds herself separated from Ezekiel and Cricket in the wastelands. Lemon’s abilities to manipulate electricity mark her as a deviate, and deadly corporate operatives are hunting her to use as a weapon in the war between BioMaas Incorporated and Daedelus Technologies. Instead, Lemon finds herself falling in with a group of fellow deviates—a band of teenagers with astonishing abilities, led by an enigmatic figure known as the Major, who may hold the secrets to Lemon’s past.

Meanwhile, Cricket finds himself in possession of the puritanical Brotherhood, a religious cult set for a head-on collision with the Major and his band. Searching for Lemon, Ezekiel finds a strange ally in an old enemy, and uncovers a plot that may see him reunited with his beloved Ana.

And inside Babel, a remade Eve hatches a plan to bring an end to the world.

I’m pretty sure I squealed in excitement when I received this ARC.  The first book in this series, LIFEL1K3, was mind-blowing, full of twists, and one of my most memorable reads last year.

In the first book, Lemon Fresh stole nearly every scene she was in, so I was thrilled she’s the primary POV for DEV1AT3.  Fiercely loyal, a rollicking sense of humor, and such a kind heart – anyone would be lucky to count her as a friend.  With her enthralling story, I ran through nearly every emotion out there.  By the end of the book, she’s still surrounded by mystery, and I’m excited to see what happens next for her.

Cricket, my favorite logika, has a chance to live what he thought was his dream.  Unfortunately, be careful what you wish for.  Ezekiel finds an unlikely accomplice, learns some hard truths, and fights the good fight – but there are still surprises in store for him.

The world-building, a combination of Mad Max and Pacific Rim, continues to be magnificent, and some new, highly charismatic characters are introduced.  Some readers may be disappointed Eve plays more of a minor role in this novel, but Lemon’s story is too big to be a sub plot, and needs to be told.  When all is said and done, I think everything will weave together in the end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

My Top 5 #SciFi Movie Influences #OWSCyCon2019 #YA

I’m pretty sure I was born a sci-fi geek.  From a young age, I can remember being captivated by sci-fi movies and books.  Normal generally bored me – I lived in the world of normal.  It was the unusual, otherworldly, and improbable that held me spellbound.  Today, I thought I’d share with you the five science fiction movies that made the biggest impressions on me.  Rather than listing least to most favorite, these are listed chronologically.

5.  Planet of the Apes  I’m totally dating myself, but I was in grade school when these movies came out, and I was instantly hooked.  Seeing Charleton Heston awaken to another world where apes were in charge – and they spoke?  I never knew movies like this existed.  But when he saw what was left of the Statue of Liberty at the end, my young mind was blown.

4.  Star Wars  You had to see this one coming.  Light sabers, talking droids, powerful Jedis, space travel, and such detailed world-building – instant obsession.  I’m a fan of the whole series (except any scenes including Jar Jar Binks – such a travesty), and after watching A New Hope, my next obsession was the video game adaptation at the local arcade.  I personally destroyed the Death Star many times over.  You’re welcome.

3.  The Terminator  This movie is at the root of my love of just about anything involving time travel.  It didn’t hurt that Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) looked the way he did.  As Sarah Connor, I would have accepted his offer in a heartbeat.  But seriously, the whole premise that John Conner sent a soldier back in time to protect Conner’s mother – and that man was Conner’s father?  I turned that one over in my mind for days.  I’ll still watch that movie when it’s on.

2.  The Matrix  I was a Keanu Reeves fan long before I saw this movie.  Besides the effects being off the charts cool, once I understood what the Matrix was?  And Neo was The One?  I fell hard for this one, and the sequels that followed.  The idea that what you perceive is reality isn’t, but some people choose to live that way had my head spinning for days.  It might have been my first experience with alternate realities.

1.  Inception  Speaking of cool effects – even if you didn’t get Inception, there’s no denying they were visually stunning.  The whole entering someone else’s consciousness impacted me deeply.  If you ask me, that token fell, and Dom was reunited with his children.

Parts of my young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel, The Gemini Connection, were heavily influenced by The Matrix and Inception.  One of my main characters, Evan, is a Mindbender who enters the minds of others and connects thoughts and concepts, and occasionally battles nightmares.  Evan also shares an unusual connection with his twin, Simon, that is instrumental in saving their dying planet.  To find out more about my books, you can look around here, on my website, or check out my virtual booth here.  I’ve also written a young adult horror novel, Sarah.  Info on that book is included in my sci-fi booth, or you can visit my booth under the horror section here.

OWS CyCon officially runs May 17-19 with the CyCon website and Facebook events acting as the hub for all of our events. Sign up for our newsletter or RSVP to the event to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the bookish goodness we have to offer. Plus, you can read more about our participating Sci Fi authors and their Top 5 favorites in Sci-Fi before CyCon starts. Visit the blog hop page any time leading up to CyCon for the latest posts and your chance to enter our MEGA giveaway (open May 10).

#OWSCyCon2019 Cover Wars – Please Vote! #YA #scifi #horror

Happy Friday!  I’m participating in OWS CyCon over the next few days, and both of my book covers are battling it out in Cover Wars – Sarah under horror/thriller, and The Gemini Connection under sci-fi.

I could use your help, and this is me begging for votes – if you have a couple of minutes, please vote at the following links:

Vote for Sarah HERE.

Vote for The Gemini Connection HERE.

Fair warning – the bracket for sci-fi has been kind of wonky in the mornings, but seems to work in the afternoon.

Don’t forget to register for the 22 book and Amazon gift card giveaway HERE!

Thanks so much – have a great weekend, and don’t forget to vote tomorrow, also!

#OWSCycon2019 World-Building Showcase: Arid Alarm by L.B. Carter #scifi #YA

Welcome to another fantastic stop in our World-building Showcase blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting a story where the world changes or ends as we know it, but you can find a full list of authors and topics on the OWS Cycon website. Let’s dive in!

Welcome, L.B. Carter!

Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, what is the Climatic Climacteric series about?

The Earth’s climate is changing, and natural disasters are becoming more frequent, more intense, and more deadly: coastal storms, forest fires, drought. Voted the 14th Best Indie Book of 2018 by readers at Read Freely, the Internationally Bestselling upper YA/NA near-future sci-fi Climatic Climacteric series is now (as of April 26) complete with tense adventures of hope, suspense, thrills and a touch of romance! All books are FREE on KU or anyone can start the series for only $0.99 at www.books2Read.com/SilentSiren.

Does language play any role in your world? Does everyone speak the same language, or is there variety? Did you invent any new slang or terminology during your world-building process?

This book takes place in the near-future with as realistic science and technology as I know, so it’s not too different but has some scientific terms… though one of my main characters in book one has some creative word choices for avoiding swears!

What kinds of climates do your characters experience? Do they see a lot of change or is it always the same? Has your world always had this kind of climate, or has it changed over time?

Now this is a perfect question for this series! The premise is what the world will look like as climate change starts to really mess with how people live on the planet! There are some seriously terrifying natural disasters and crazy weather effects that torment my characters: book one focuses on rising sea level and hurricanes/coastal storms; book two focuses on forest fires and technological advances; book three revolves around drought and governmental attention to such a climate.

Is there any kind of faith system in your world? Did you draw inspiration from any real cultures, living or dead?

Since this world is similar to today’s, it’s similarly diverse.

What do people in your world do for fun? Are there sports, games, music, or other activities they do in their free time?

In book one, we follow two characters in high school. There are normal forms of entertainment–Sirena (Rena) uses boxing as a way to destress, they do pottery at school, and some friends are involved in ice hockey. However, with all the chaos Mother Nature is tossing at them, they quickly have to shun games and fun–free time at all–in favor of survival.

What kinds of transportation and other interesting technology do your characters have access to? Are they ahead, behind, or a mix of different kinds of tech compared to where we are now?

This future world has some technological advances to the current one: cars are mostly electric in a too-late attempt to avoid polluting the Earth, though deisel is still prominent in the poorer, disaster-ravaged areas (mostly the Midwest), there are few universities left after an education overhaul but they’re fixated on automatons, robots, drones and helicopters. Importantly to book two, they’re also improving prosthetics for amputees. Genetics is also advancing even if regulations and fears are still averse, but I’m not saying more than that.

Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about your world-ending event and how it led to the world of your story? Was it a distant event or does it happen as part of your tale?

Humans. Anthropogenic ignorance and arrogance caused this climatic climacteric (a term that means period of time) that’s forcing everyone to focus on not becoming part of the Earth’s next mass extinction.

Your Process

When you build a world, what is your process like? Do you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?

This world is built on years of knowledge gleaned through my extensive education. I’ve studied Earth Science for almost ten years, getting a bachelors, masters and then doctorate, so I’ve cultivated all the research I needed on the potential impacts climate change will have on Earth.

How central is the setting of your story to the story itself? Is it more of an interesting backdrop, or is it integral to the events of the story?

This series takes my characters–and the reader–all over the US in this adventure series! The travels show the various aspects of climate change impacting different areas in various ways: from coast to interior to mountains.

When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use? Do you tend to be upfront about things, or keep the reader in the dark and feed them only bits at a time?

A pet peeve of mine is when authors don’t use “show, don’t tell,” so I try my hardest to pepper things into the story itself, so readers get a feel of the world in how the characters interact with it, rather than listing its state outright. I’m told they’re quite mysterious and suspenseful, so perhaps it’s a bit of “in the dark” unintentionally.

How much of a role does realism and hard scientific fact play in your world-building? Do you strive for 100% accuracy, or do you leave room for the fantastical and unexplainable in your world?

A lot! As a scientist, I find it hard not to base my fiction in fact. I’d say the plot is fiction (I hope), the characters are plausible fiction, and the world and its disasters are scientifically predicted (which is shame). My intention with this series was in part to help non-scientists better understand climate change predictions and exactly how they will pan out into actual effects on humans’ lives.

Do you have any specialized training or background from your “real life” that has informed your world-building?

I’m a scientist! More than that, I’m a science communicator at a university in my day-job, which means it’s my duty to explain the latest and most important results coming out of scientific research to the public. This is a soft version of that.

How do you keep all of the details of your world and characters straight? Do you have a system for deciding on different factors and keeping it all organized, or does it live more in your head?

It’s mostly in my head. I do have character cards to keep track of everyone’s names, background, details. The world is all in my mind.

Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing?

Not with this world because it’s so ingrained in my brain after years delving deep into Earth Science. We’ll see about the next one…

Where can people find you on the web?

I love meeting other bookish friends! Please check out this series, which is now complete as of about a month ago (wahoo!)–find out more info about me and the series at my CyCon booth here.You can also find more information and links to my social media and email at www.LBCarter.com. Subscribe to my newsletter there to get free books, previews of the books I described above and more… like meeting my snuggly garfield-wannabe, Mr. Cat!

Many thanks to my host for letting me pop onto their blog here to chat about my series! I hope it was enlightening and fun. This blog-hop is a great way for me to find new books myself! 🙂

 

For more stops on our End of the World World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website. You can also find more great Sci Fi authors and books on our main Sci Fi event page.

 

 

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Occasionally, I’ll pick up a book and know within the first several pages that I’m in for a five star read.  Aurora Rising is one of those books.

These characters.  I fell for them hard, and the banter between them is hilarious.  All are so fully-developed and relatable, and with seven different POVs, that’s a tremendous feat to accomplish.  So many POVs may throw off some readers, but each voice is distinctive, and I knew exactly who was speaking.  And such fantastic character diversity (and I don’t mean humans and aliens).

Talk about no-win situations – these authors throw their characters into several, and you’re just sure there’s no way they’ll survive – and then things happen that I won’t give away, but trust me, you’ll be surprised at the originality and creativity.  The last 15% of this book really put me through the wringer – hidden secrets, big emotions, high-stakes danger.  Make sure to carve out a good hour or so when you won’t be disturbed.

Even with all the action, death-defying moments, and a tension-filled heist, Aurora Rising leans heavily on themes of family, friendship, faith, and finding your crew.  It’s an unusual, but charismatic mix of Guardians of the Galaxy, The Breakfast Club, and Six of Crows, and a novel you won’t want to miss.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #scifi

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Truth – I was skeptical about this book because of the cover, but then I saw the author’s name and read the blurb, which has a kind of Stepford Wives feel.  Friends, I couldn’t put this book down.

The description is maddening enough for women, but trust me – your blood pressure will reach new heights once you read about the way these girls are treated.  At 400 pages, it’s long, but it certainly didn’t feel like it.  I wanted to finish it in one sitting – it’s that compelling, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.  Some of the interactions between the men and the students will make your skin crawl, but the friendships between the girls are strong, wonderful, and will make you wish for that kind of bond.  Everyone deserves friends like these.

This is a dark, twisty novel, and some scenes are tough to read.  But it’s also empowering when the girls realize their world is skewed very much in the bizarre and unnatural direction, and then decide to regain control.  I’m anxious to see what happens next.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.  I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson #bookreview #YA #scifi

When all hope is gone, how do you survive?

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves. But their solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. 

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

My book club requirement was to read a YA book optioned for movie/TV, and The Sandcastle Empire was snatched up by Paramount before its release date.  And I’d just bought it during a Bookbub promotion a couple of months ago so, an obvious choice.

The beginning of this book is absolutely captivating, and I fell hard for it.  An exciting escape on the beach, explosions, stolen boats with questionable traveling companions – I couldn’t read fast enough.  Once Eden reaches the island – wow.  If you’re a Lost fan, this island will bring back memories.  After one night on the beach, a character is missing – grabbed while everyone slept.  Eden and the other two girls trek through the mysterious jungle in search of her and experience extraordinary occurrences.  Color me enthralled.

Then the storyline ventures into familiar tropes:  insta-love, girls more focused on cute boys than on their fight for survival and appearing helpless – after they’d just braved a life-threatening, danger-filled trek through the jungle without the help of the male persuasion.

The world-building is fantastic, the writing descriptive, and the plot original, if a little predictable in some places.  Overall, I enjoyed the read, but hoped the plot would concentrate more on the science fiction/dystopian aspects of the story as in the first half, rather than introduce distracting romantic elements.